CFO: New value creator?

Changing role of the Finance Leader


In recent years, there have been frequent conversations about the changing role of the CFO – mainly oscillating around the paradigm shift from numbers people to a strategic advisor to CEO or more heavy-weight business partner.

These reflections are very current in today's economy, where the topic of the day for the CFO is growing complexity, more responsibilities (not that previous ones are not there anymore) - e.g.implicit accountability for talent retention - primarily the realm of HR of course but CFO should be part of the equasion now – at least on the strategic level, where he is now.

Another challenge, or opportunity if you will, is M&A activity and there is no shortage of that in the marketplace today. The intensity depends on the industry, e.g. Pharmaceuticals would be a prime example of intense consolidation, spin-offs, etc. Needless to say how important it is to get the whole design of M&A pursuits correct. They need to look at objectives processes from both P&L and cultural point of view, many CFOs view the latter as the cornerstone of success or failure.

These, together with other initiatives, show that Finance leaders should primarily orientate themselves towards new value creation – revenue increase, new market entry and new product lines. Of course, the CFO works together with his other C-level colleagues and other stakeholders but you get the picture – he is either a champion of these strategic company goals himself or is at least involved.

Talking about technology – a lot of the new expectations and instrumental tasks of the CFO still hinge on tools and processes of yesterday, expecting new outcomes at the same time - which is a challenge of course.

There are plenty of disruptive and innovative technologies within the Big Data and Analytics realm which are simply not leveraged yet – by the office of the CFO and their respective company, for that matter.

What about data preparation? data blending? predictive analytics? Traditional tools like SAP BPC, do the job andcan be robust. However, when it comes to the journey – time to value, implementation time, agility of upgrades – there are new, exciting and innovative options available.

How about ease-of-use? Business user adoption? Is the tool at your company only used within the finance department? Have you ever analyzed the reasons? Would it be helpful to have a company-wide insight into strategic finance matters without having to be a data scientist? The list goes on.

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